Surapol Yinasawapan, a senior official from Thailand’s Department of Agriculture, revealed yesterday [Wednesday] that a ban would soon be placed on the importation of 37 GM crops for any reason other than scientific research.

Yinasawapan, who works within the department’s Agricultural Regulatory Division told The Nation newspaper: “GM crops are novel for Thailand. We have to be more careful before allowing them to enter because some people are concerned about their negative impact on the ecosystem,”

The 37 crops, including oranges, coffee trees and wheat, will appear on the prohibited plant list under the 1964 Plant Quarantine Act, which already lists 40 GM plant species.

After the ban is in place, importers of plants will have to show certification to guarantee that they are not genetically modified.

Banpot na Pompetch, chairman of the subcommittee on biosafety, has meanwhile insisted that the government cancel its ban of 3 April last year on GM field experiments, which he claims are essential to GM research.